Making money from a fashion blog

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I just wrote a response to a post over on IFB (http://independentfashionbloggers.org) that I am going to re-publish here (in slightly edited form) since it covers a lot of basics very briefly. It is skewed a bit for fashion bloggers, but really would hold up for almost anyone looking to monetize a blog with advertising or affiliate sales.

Just want to comment as someone who has been on both sides of this issue (publisher and advertiser). I would make a further distinction and call things like Google's AdSense, the Yahoo! Publisher Network, etc. "Advertising" and not "Affiliate" networks. In these cases you are giving your screen real estate up for CPC (cost per click) advertising. Some ad networks are CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions served) and in the case of IFB members the most important one of note at the moment seems to be the Glam network.

I am not a member of Glam and not exactly sure how they pay, but as someone who is consulting in the fashion world and always looking for new sites to work with I am seeing many fashion blogs, sites, and forums being sucked up by Glam. They appear to be (at the least) displaying CPM based ads, and they (probably) stipulate that their ads are placed "above the fold" (meaning you don't have to scroll down your site to see them). It does also appear however that you can continue to sell your own ad/affiliate space as well.

So those are advertising networks - as compared to affiliate networks like CJ (Commission Junction) which was mentioned and LinkShare, etc. There is also Zanox which is centered more on the European market (and many, many, others).

Usually with affiliate networks you are going to get paid CPA - Cost Per Action - which in the fashion world usually means when someone goes to an online shop and makes a purchase. Some people may still be paying for "leads" but this is becoming more rare. With the affiliate networks you first get into them (i.e. apply to CJ, etc.), and then once you are a member apply to the "programs" that you are interested.

One last note as also mentioned: this is hard work. Unless you have huge site traffic, converting as an affiliate can be very sporadic. You shouldn't have unrealistic expectations. If you have 100 or 200 visitors a day and show a banner for an online store, you may not make any sales at all (I know this first hand - I have a couple of high traffic sites and sometimes go months without an affiliate sale). However - if you are very focussed on your topic and present items in the right way, you may be pleasantly surprised.

For bloggers, we have seen the most success when they mention specific items directly in a post that have been coded with the proper affiliate links (for CJ members you may want to see this post about deep linking). You also have to be very careful not to over stuff your site/blog with ads and affiliate programs. Cluttering up your left or right hand columns with tons of ads, links, etc. just puts the blinders on your users and leads to diminishing returns.

A healthy mix is probably a leader board, and then an ad unit or two in the right or left column, with one sprinkled in the main content area from time to time. So maybe 3 to 4 permanent units, and then mix in posts directly linking to products from your affiliates. For more insight into popular and standard ad unit sizes and lingo the site to go to is the IAB.

If you want to get even more sophisticated about it and maybe you have a lot of traffic, you can look into third party services (some of which are free) which will actually rotate your banners and ads etc. for you. So perhaps you have many programs you are signed up to, but want to rotate the ads in the same spot as each page loads. Google offers this as a free service through the Google Ad Manager (warning - this is technical and it will take some time if you plan to implement it!).

Anyway - the good thing about all of this for fashion bloggers is that people do buy clothes online and that segment of online sales is still growing. Good luck!


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